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Japanese Market Drifts Lower

The Japanese stock market is trading notably lower on Wednesday with the overnight weak close in the U.S. and European markets prompting investors to indulge in some selling.

Steel, non-ferrous metals, retail, real estate and insurance stocks are mostly trading weak. Bank, automobile and electric power stocks are finding some support.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index is currently down 145.2 points or 1.5 percent at 9,905.2.

Among the prominent losers, Oki Electric is down by over 5.5 percent. Fast Retailing is down by about 4.5 percent despite the company reporting a strong surge in sales for the month of March.

Japan Steel and Sumco Corp are trading lower by over 3 percent. Sharp Corp, NGK Insulators, Astellas Pharma, Nippon Kayaku, Toshiba and JGC Corp are down 2 to 2.5 percent.

IHI Corp, Sumitomo Metal Mining, Sony Financial Holdings, Advantest, Mitsubishi Electric Corp, Mitsui Chemicals, Pacific Metals, Toho Zinc and Mitsubishi Materials are also trading notably lower.

Meanwhile, Asahi Group Holdings, Japan Tobacco, Nitto Boseki, Credit Saison, Olympus Corp, Konami Corp, Shinsei Bank, Suzuki Motor, Mazda Motor, Aozora Bank, JX Holdings and Chugai Pharmaceuticals are trading in positive territory, gaining 1.3 to 3.5 percent.

Seven & I Holdings shares rose to a new high for the year amid expectations of a surge in earnings.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the upper 82 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 82.82 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea are trading weak. New Zealand is trading flat.

On Wall Street, stocks ended mostly lower on Tuesday with traders reacting to the minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest monetary policy meeting that indicated that the members were less willing to initiate another round of quantitative easing amid signs of improvement of the U.S. economy.

The Dow ended down 64.9 points or 0.5 percent at 13,199.5, the Nasdaq edged down 6.1 points or 0.2 percent to 3,113.6 and the S&P 500 slid 5.7 points or 0.4 percent to 1,413.3.

Major European markets too closed weak on Tuesday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index declined by 0.6 percent, the German DAX index and the French CAC 40 index tumbled by 1.1 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

U.S. crude oil futures closed lower on Tuesday, on continued worries over demand growth while the dollar pushed ahead following the release of Federal Reserve policy meeting minutes. Crude for May delivery dropped $1.22 or 1.2 percent to close at $104.01 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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